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Author Topic: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!  (Read 636 times)

Bad City Blue

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Mattofthespurs

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Re: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
« Reply #1 on: 03 August, 2017, 03:16:59 pm »
My paperback edition arrived today (unlike many others I think the cover is nasty, but I won't judge the book by it). But I am saving it for my annual holiday, in Spain as you asked, so won't be delving into it, or the review, until my return.

Richard

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Re: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
« Reply #2 on: 03 August, 2017, 03:20:38 pm »
That's a pretty good review .

I can't help thinking that "A minefield of imbeciles and chimps" would have been a better title.

TordelBack

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Re: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
« Reply #3 on: 22 November, 2017, 03:58:40 pm »
So as a diehard Mills fan I finally picked up a physical copy of this, and Bad City Blue's review is accurate: it certainly is a page-turner, if a frustrating one.

Unfortunately it's an absolute dog's dinner of book, with many anecdotes, phrases and theories appearing multiple times (particular offender is the bizarre one about how 2000AD should be as successful as Games Workshop, because they both started around the same time...), while topics and themes start and stop randomly, resuming again after several chapters' break as if it was the next paragraph. 

The pressures of volunteer proof-reading are one thing, but terrible cut-and-paste and find-replace errors abound, in the process accidentally creating so many neologisms ('ehavior', 'lavorisation') that one might suspect John Smith as a ghostwriter, were the tone and subject matter not so relentlessly Mills.

I get that this was developed from blog posts and sundry ramblings, and explicitly eschews a chronological approach (the reader is directed to Wikipedia) and it is nice to have so much under one cover, but it really could have used a second draft to instil some sense of order. As it is, it feels amateurish alongside Bishop's and MacManus' accounts. 

Editor, edit thyself! 

I would still recommend it as an interesting read for any 2000AD fan, and I've a lot more to say about the actual content, which includes many of Mills' familiar hobby-horses and a slew of intriguing anecdotes and theories, but enough for one post.



« Last Edit: 22 November, 2017, 04:02:30 pm by TordelBack »

Fungus

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Re: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
« Reply #4 on: 22 November, 2017, 04:06:12 pm »
Seeing the physical copy in shops had tempted me, but if it's as carelessly put together as described, one to give a miss.

CalHab

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Re: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
« Reply #5 on: 22 November, 2017, 04:33:39 pm »
I would still say its worth reading. The criticisms above are broadly valid, it badly needs a professional editor, but the content has a lot of value.

It needs to be read in context with Thrill Power Overload and MacManus' book, in my opinion. I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking for a definitive history.

TordelBack

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Re: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
« Reply #6 on: 22 November, 2017, 04:49:02 pm »
Yeah, what CalHab said. It's a mess of a book, but there's a ton of fascinating (occasionally infuriating) content, even for those of us who read a lot of Mills rants.  You'l learn the Mills definition of synchronicity, for a start (it's when a Toxic! character of his has the same last two letters in his first name as Steve McManus, who years later developed Egmont's own Toxic). If you imagine it as 'Recollections From a Highstool in Marbella', it works better than thinking of it as a 'history' of any kind: although I still don't think that's an excuse for not running a spellchecker over it before slapping it between two covers.   

Definitely worth getting though, especially if you like anti-witchcraft conspiracy theories and quickly-glossed-over UFO encounters. Don't blame me if you come out of it with a deep sense of sympathy for past Thargs.

I do intend to comment on the actual content, but there's a lot to say and I need to find the time! 
« Last Edit: 22 November, 2017, 04:53:51 pm by TordelBack »

TordelBack

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Re: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
« Reply #7 on: 24 November, 2017, 03:33:53 pm »
Snatching a moment in the middle of a huge typing job that doesn't seem close to ending to continue my thoughts...

So there are a lot of familiar Millsisms in the book, many falling into that odd doublethink style that never seems to fit well with someone so genuinely focused on justice and artistic truth. It's hard not to compare the sections about the creation of 2000AD, where several artists' work on the launch line-up stories was dismissed as lacking or unsuitable (where whole strips are redrawn, or where only an image was retained from the original submission, with whole pages chopped up and repurposed by Doug Church), with later sections where he lambasts Tharg for not hiring (for example) Fay Dalton to draw an ongoing strip.

Maybe (and it's just a thought) current Tharg thought her work (although obviously fantastic) wasn't suitable for the stories he wanted to run?  (This is concurrent with an attack on artistic conservatism in current 2000AD, which among the criticisms of the 21st C prog's faults seems to the be least valid - I can't see how a comic that regularly features the diversity of folk like D'Israeli, Trevallion, Lynch, Byrne, Holden, Weston, Broxton, Culbard, Davis, M. Harrison and Critchlow can be accused of hewing to a generic US superhero comics aesthetic).

Mills is at pains to explain that applying his critical standards to 'developing' the early strips was essential to making an all-thriller no-filler comic, and you can't but applaud his dedication, but the argument that it was okay for him to muck about with strips because he was creative and knew what he was doing, but anyone else doing it to his stories (both before and after the 2000AD launch) was diluting the original vision.  It's not like you can fault the results of Pat's meddling, but the double standards can make your head spin.

These comparisons are even more perplexing when you mentally replace the (overused) personal pronoun with a third-person 'Tharg', so that Tharg does one thing, and then Tharg criticises Tharg for doing exactly that thing.  Add in the aforementioned lack of clear chronology in the book and it becomes quite surreal.

Anyway, that's some of the more familiar stuff, but there's lots that I hadn't come across before.  One particularly interesting section deals in detail with the reality of current page rates and royalty payments, and even with a general awareness of the hard struggle that is comics, set out here in black and white it's pretty shocking: for example, prior to the forthcoming Rebellion reprint of Charley's War, Mills (and Colquhoun's estate) haven't received a penny in royalties from all those glossy hardbacks. That seems utterly wrong.

In this Mills seems less concerned with creators' legal ownership of their material, and more concerned with adequate compensation on moral and practical grounds - he advocates a 50/50 split on profits/royalties between creator and publisher, but you get the impression that he'd settle for something reasonable (and he notes that Rebellion are doing something about it with their current classic comics collections).  He makes the point that an equitable royalties arrangement in work-for-hire means that creators can invest time in development (although his insistence on a one-size-fits-all 6 week development period for every new strip is a bit bizarre), knowing that their income from the strip isn't purely based on one-off per-page payment. 

He also makes a familiar point about digital reproduction rights, that creators can't have made a responsible binding decision to surrender them in the 70s and 80s, because they were never envisaged.  I'd like to see that one teased out.

It's thoughtful and interesting stuff.

(And then you have the twin claims that if Pat had been allowed to develop Misty the way he originally intended, it would still be around today, as would Battle if Dave Hunt had been left in charge, which seem to fly in the face of a changing market. Discuss!)
« Last Edit: 24 November, 2017, 03:39:57 pm by TordelBack »

manwithnoname

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Re: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
« Reply #8 on: 23 January, 2018, 12:17:27 pm »
I'm about half-way through it. I don't really share much of Pat's world-view or politics - and he does come across at times like the worst sort of tin-foil hat autodidact - but I love so many of his creations, and his stories and characters have been a vital part of the comic's success and survival, so if you're a fan of Dredd, Finn, ABC Warriors, Defoe, Slaine, Flesh, Savage, Nemesis, Defoe etc (and I certainly am), this is essential reading.

However, it does inadvertently delve into self-parody all too often, and sometimes reads a bit like a comic-book version of an Alan Partridge autobiography ("Naturally, I had the last laugh"), in which Mills views the failure of anything he is involved with as being the fault of someone else: the stupid editors, ignorant suits, fascist owners, bad art, even quite often the readers themselves, as his hilarious musings about Crisis sum up, accusing them of being perhaps a bit racist and thick.

Still, if you can ignore his laughably clunky politics and one-eyed world view, what you have is an insight into one of the most important, valuable comics creators in the UK, who has been delivering thrills for the best part of 5 decades

Credo!

IndigoPrime

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Re: Pat Mills - Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
« Reply #9 on: 23 January, 2018, 12:43:52 pm »
He also makes a familiar point about digital reproduction rights, that creators can't have made a responsible binding decision to surrender them in the 70s and 80s, because they were never envisaged.  I'd like to see that one teased out.
That one's quite an interesting point, although probably aligns with whatever contracts were signed (assuming some were). These days, creative contracts tend to cover their bases regarding new formats – basically, you sign over everything, forever, regardless of what comes next. If you're fortunate, you might get a percentage on reprint, but that's vanishingly rare for most people, and in most areas of creative output. However, there are contracts out there that stipulate specific formats. There are musicians who’ve gained rights to digital output, precisely because at the time certain formats were noted in the contracts. (This seems to have been the case when CDs were just arriving, so labels could nail that format down. Some seemingly didn't have the foresight to realise something else would replace CDs.)